Coast Guard takes charge as integrator lead in procurements

LSI provisions for Deepwater to expire in 2011

The Coast Guard will comply with a provision in House legislation that would ban using lead systems integrators (LSIs) in procurements, but plans to use that structure temporarily to complete work in two major acquisitions, the agency’s top acquisition official said today.

The House approved a Coast Guard authorization bill on Oct. 23 that would ban the use of LSIs 180 days after enactment, among other provisions. The Senate has not yet acted on the bill.

The Coast Guard took over as LSI for future work on the $26 billion Deepwater asset modernization program in 2007. Those integrators are responsible for making sure that all elements of the procurement — including ships, aircraft and electronic systems — are interoperable and achieve the requirements of the plan. The Deepwater procurement includes all those elements.

The Coast Guard is still using private LSIs in contracts for Deepwater and for the Rescue 21 shoreline communication system until those contracts expire in 2011 and 2012, respectively, but only for modifications, adjustments and completing work that has already started, said Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago, the guard's assistant commandant for acquisition.

The Coast Guard is effectively functioning in the lead systems integrator role for Deepwater, and is maintaining the system-of-systems design going forward, Rabago said. The guard is coordinating efforts to ensure that ships and cutters can communicate with shoreline facilities, with each other, with air assets, and with other entities, he said.

“We are choosing the pieces and parts,” Rabago said. “We are making sure it all works together.” There also is coordination being done with technical authorities, sustainment plans and alignment with the guard's modernization goals, he added.

Deepwater, which started in 2002, is producing eight new National Security Cutters, which are the largest asset, as well as a series of smaller cutters, patrol boats, aircraft and other deliverables.

The Coast Guard recently accepted delivery of the second national security cutter, the Waesche, which will undergo additional testing and sea trials before being commissioned in May 2010. The first cutter, the Bertholf, is operating, and the third, the Stratton, is about a third completed.

The guard has benefited from lessons learned with the Bertholf, Rabago said.

For example, in a recent inspection by technical experts, the Waesche received only three notices of deficiency, in comparison with the eight notices received at the same production milestone for the Bertholf, he said. In addition, the guard recently noted fewer items in the contract that need modification or adjustment on the Waesche than at a comparable point for the first cutter, he said.

“We have had fewer discrepancies, and fewer items on the list at delivery,” Rabago said. “Very few compartments on the Waesche are unfinished.”

Also, the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems on the Bertholf took 18 months for approval, whereas the Waesche is on track for approval in eight months, he said.

For Rescue 21, a communication system that runs along United States coasts, equipment has been installed in 29 of the system's 39 sectors. “We have 30,000 miles of coastline covered with this basic maritime 911 system,” Rabago said.

Rabago took over the acquisition unit in June after several years of upheaval in the Deepwater program. One continuing problem in the unit is a shortage of personnel, and Rabago said today he will be hiring 100 new employees in fiscal 2010.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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